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Table of Contents
Vol. 56, No. 1, 2010
Issue release date: January 2010
Section title: Behavioural Science Section
Free Access
Gerontology 2010;56:93–99
(DOI:10.1159/000272018)

Depression among Centenarians and the Oldest Old: Contributions of Cognition and Personality

Margrett J.a · Martin P.a · Woodard J.L.b · Miller L.S.c · MacDonald M.a · Baenziger J.a · Siegler I.C.d · Davey A.e · Poon L.c
aIowa State University, Ames, Iowa, bWayne State University, Detroit, Mich., cUniversity of Georgia, Athens, Ga., and dDuke University, Durham, N.C., eTemple University, Philadelphia, Pa., USA
email Corresponding Author

Abstract

Background: An estimated 20% of adults over the age of 55 experience clinical mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. For older adults, mental health concerns are often undetected, concomitant with physical challenges, and ultimately go untreated. These realities have significant implications for older adults’ day-to-day functioning, particularly among the oldest old. Objective: The present study examined the ability of cognition and personality in explaining depression within a sample of octogenarians and centenarians. Methods: Participants were assessed during the most recent cross-sectional data collection of the Georgia Centenarian Study. The final eligible sample included 76 octogenarians (mean: 84.25 years, SD: 2.82; range: 81–90) and 158 centenarians and near centenarians (mean: 99.82 years, SD: 1.72; range: 98–109). Results: Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the relation between key variables and depressive symptoms in the two age groups. Blocks entered into the analyses included: demographics (i.e. age group, residential status, sex, and ethnicity) and functioning, memory and problem-solving ability, and personality (i.e. extraversion and neuroticism). Models differed for octogenarians and centenarians. Decreased problem-solving ability was related to greater depressive symptoms among octogenarians. For centenarians, institutional residence and increased neurotic tendencies were related to greater depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Study findings demonstrate the need to examine a variety of factors which influence mental health in later life and to consider the unique contexts and differential experiences of octogenarians and centenarians.

© 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel


  

Key Words

  • Centenarian
  • Octogenarian
  • Mental health
  • Cognition
  • Personality

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services: Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General – Executive Summary 1999. Rockville, US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/summary.html (accessed September 25, 2007).
  2. McGuire LC, Strine TW, Okoro CA, Ahluwalia IB, Ford ES: Modifiable characteristics of a healthy lifestyle in U.S. older adults with or without frequent mental distress: 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15, 754–761.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health: Older adults: depression and suicide facts. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/older-adults-depression-and-suicide-facts.shtml (accessed December 14, 2007).
  4. American Association of Suicidology: Elderly suicide fact sheet 2006. http://www.suicidology.org/associations/1045/files/Elderly2004.pdf (accessed January 11, 2008).
  5. Boyd J, McKiernan F, Waller G: Early-onset and late-onset depression in older adults: psychological perspectives. Rev Clin Gerontol 2000;10:149–159.
  6. Haynie DA, Berg S, Johansson B, Gatz M, Zarit SH: Symptoms of depression in the oldest old: a longitudinal study. J Gerontol Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2001;56:P111–P118.
  7. Alexopoulos GS, Kiosses DN, Heo M, Murphy CF, Shanmuhgam B, Gunning-Dixon F: Executive dysfunction and the course of geriatric depression. Biol Psychiatry 2005;58:204–210.
  8. Lee JS, Potter GC, Wagner HR, Welsh-Bohmer KA, Steffens DC: Persistent mild cognitive impairment in geriatric depression. Int Psychogeriatr 2007;19:125–135.
  9. Nuyen J, Spreeuwenberg PM, Beekman AT, Groenewegen PP, van den Bos GA, Schellevis FG: Cerebrovascular risk factors and subsequent depression in older general practice patient. J Affect Disord 2007;99:73–81.
  10. Anstey KJ, von Sanden C, Sargent-Cox K, Luszcz MA: Prevalence and risk factors for depression in a longitudinal, population-based study including individuals in the community and residential care. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15:497–505.
  11. Steunenberg B, Beekman AT, Deeg DJ, Breemer MA, Kerkhof AJ: Mastery and neuroticism predict recovery of depression in later life. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15:234–242.
  12. Duberstein PR, Heisel MJ: Personality traits and the reporting of affective disorder symptoms in depressed patients. J Affect Disord 2007;103:165–171.
  13. Poon LW, Jazwinski SM, Green RC, Woodard JL, Martin P, Rodgers WL, Johnson MA, Hausman D, Arnold J, Davey A, Batzer MA, Markesbery WR, Gearing M, Siegler IC, Reynolds S, Dai J: Methodological considerations in studying centenarians: lessons learned from the Georgia Centenarian Studies. Annu Rev Gerontol Geriatr 2007;27:231–264.
  14. Folstein MF, Folstein SE, McHugh PR: ‘Mini-mental state’. A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 1975;12:189–198.
  15. Tombaugh TN, McIntyre NJ: The Mini-Mental Status Examination: a comprehensive review. J Am Geriatr Soc 1992;40:922–935.
  16. Yesavage JA: Development and validation of a Geriatric Depression Screening Scale: a preliminary report. J Psychiatr Res 1983;17:37–49.
  17. Loewenstein DA, Amigo E, Duara R, Guterman R, Hurwitz D, Berkowitz N, et al: A new scale for the assessment of functional status in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. J Gerontol 1989;44:114–121.
  18. de Frias CM, Lövdén M, Lindenberger U, Nilsson LG: Revisiting the dedifferentiation hypothesis with longitudinal multi-cohort data. Intelligence 2007;35:381–392.

    External Resources

  19. Fuld PA: The Fuld Object Memory Test. Chicago, Stoelting Instrument Co., 1981.
  20. Loeb PA: Independent Living Scales Manual. San Antonio, Psychological Corp., 1996.
  21. Costa PT McCrae RR: NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Port Huron, Sigma Assessment Systems Inc., 1992.
  22. Sanders ML, Lyness JM, Eberly S, King DA, Caine ED. Cerebrovascular risk factors, executive dysfunction, and depression in older primary care patients. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006;14:145–152.
  23. Harralson TL, White TM, Regenberg AC, Kallan MJ, Have TT, Parmelee PA, Johnson JC: Similarities and differences in depression among black and white nursing home residents. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2002;10:175–184.
  24. Choi NG, Bohman TM: Predicting the changes in depressive symptomatology in later life: how much do changes in health status, marital and caregiving status, work and volunteering, and health-related behaviors contribute? J Aging Health 2007;19:152–177.
  25. Martin P, Martin M: Proximal and distal influences on development: the model of developmental adaptation. Dev Rev 2002;22:78–96.

    External Resources

  26. Baltes PB, Smith J: New frontiers in the future of aging: from successful aging of the young old to the dilemmas of the fourth age. Gerontology 2003;49:123–135.

  

Author Contacts

Jennifer A. Margrett, PhD
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
4380 Palmer Building, Room 2354
Ames, IA 50011-4380 (USA)
Tel. +1 515 294 3028, Fax +1 515 294 2502, E-Mail margrett@iastate.edu

  

Article Information

Additional authors include S.M. Jazwinski, R.C. Green, M. Gearing, W.R. Markesbery, M.A. Johnson, J.S. Tenover, W.L. Rodgers, D.B. Hausman, C. Rott, and J. Arnold.

Received: April 8, 2008
Accepted after revision: November 24, 2008
Published online: January 26, 2010
Number of Print Pages : 7
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 3, Number of References : 26

  

Publication Details

Gerontology (International Journal of Experimental, Clinical, Behavioural and Technological Gerontology)

Vol. 56, No. 1, Year 2010 (Cover Date: January 2010)

Journal Editor: Wick G. (Innsbruck)
ISSN: 0304-324X (Print), eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER


Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

Abstract

Background: An estimated 20% of adults over the age of 55 experience clinical mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. For older adults, mental health concerns are often undetected, concomitant with physical challenges, and ultimately go untreated. These realities have significant implications for older adults’ day-to-day functioning, particularly among the oldest old. Objective: The present study examined the ability of cognition and personality in explaining depression within a sample of octogenarians and centenarians. Methods: Participants were assessed during the most recent cross-sectional data collection of the Georgia Centenarian Study. The final eligible sample included 76 octogenarians (mean: 84.25 years, SD: 2.82; range: 81–90) and 158 centenarians and near centenarians (mean: 99.82 years, SD: 1.72; range: 98–109). Results: Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the relation between key variables and depressive symptoms in the two age groups. Blocks entered into the analyses included: demographics (i.e. age group, residential status, sex, and ethnicity) and functioning, memory and problem-solving ability, and personality (i.e. extraversion and neuroticism). Models differed for octogenarians and centenarians. Decreased problem-solving ability was related to greater depressive symptoms among octogenarians. For centenarians, institutional residence and increased neurotic tendencies were related to greater depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Study findings demonstrate the need to examine a variety of factors which influence mental health in later life and to consider the unique contexts and differential experiences of octogenarians and centenarians.

© 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel


  

Author Contacts

Jennifer A. Margrett, PhD
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
4380 Palmer Building, Room 2354
Ames, IA 50011-4380 (USA)
Tel. +1 515 294 3028, Fax +1 515 294 2502, E-Mail margrett@iastate.edu

  

Article Information

Additional authors include S.M. Jazwinski, R.C. Green, M. Gearing, W.R. Markesbery, M.A. Johnson, J.S. Tenover, W.L. Rodgers, D.B. Hausman, C. Rott, and J. Arnold.

Received: April 8, 2008
Accepted after revision: November 24, 2008
Published online: January 26, 2010
Number of Print Pages : 7
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 3, Number of References : 26

  

Publication Details

Gerontology (International Journal of Experimental, Clinical, Behavioural and Technological Gerontology)

Vol. 56, No. 1, Year 2010 (Cover Date: January 2010)

Journal Editor: Wick G. (Innsbruck)
ISSN: 0304-324X (Print), eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Behavioural Science Section

Received: 4/8/2008
Accepted: 11/24/2008
Published online: 1/26/2010
Issue release date: January 2010

Number of Print Pages: 7
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0304-324X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER


Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

References

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services: Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General – Executive Summary 1999. Rockville, US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/summary.html (accessed September 25, 2007).
  2. McGuire LC, Strine TW, Okoro CA, Ahluwalia IB, Ford ES: Modifiable characteristics of a healthy lifestyle in U.S. older adults with or without frequent mental distress: 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15, 754–761.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health: Older adults: depression and suicide facts. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/older-adults-depression-and-suicide-facts.shtml (accessed December 14, 2007).
  4. American Association of Suicidology: Elderly suicide fact sheet 2006. http://www.suicidology.org/associations/1045/files/Elderly2004.pdf (accessed January 11, 2008).
  5. Boyd J, McKiernan F, Waller G: Early-onset and late-onset depression in older adults: psychological perspectives. Rev Clin Gerontol 2000;10:149–159.
  6. Haynie DA, Berg S, Johansson B, Gatz M, Zarit SH: Symptoms of depression in the oldest old: a longitudinal study. J Gerontol Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2001;56:P111–P118.
  7. Alexopoulos GS, Kiosses DN, Heo M, Murphy CF, Shanmuhgam B, Gunning-Dixon F: Executive dysfunction and the course of geriatric depression. Biol Psychiatry 2005;58:204–210.
  8. Lee JS, Potter GC, Wagner HR, Welsh-Bohmer KA, Steffens DC: Persistent mild cognitive impairment in geriatric depression. Int Psychogeriatr 2007;19:125–135.
  9. Nuyen J, Spreeuwenberg PM, Beekman AT, Groenewegen PP, van den Bos GA, Schellevis FG: Cerebrovascular risk factors and subsequent depression in older general practice patient. J Affect Disord 2007;99:73–81.
  10. Anstey KJ, von Sanden C, Sargent-Cox K, Luszcz MA: Prevalence and risk factors for depression in a longitudinal, population-based study including individuals in the community and residential care. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15:497–505.
  11. Steunenberg B, Beekman AT, Deeg DJ, Breemer MA, Kerkhof AJ: Mastery and neuroticism predict recovery of depression in later life. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2007;15:234–242.
  12. Duberstein PR, Heisel MJ: Personality traits and the reporting of affective disorder symptoms in depressed patients. J Affect Disord 2007;103:165–171.
  13. Poon LW, Jazwinski SM, Green RC, Woodard JL, Martin P, Rodgers WL, Johnson MA, Hausman D, Arnold J, Davey A, Batzer MA, Markesbery WR, Gearing M, Siegler IC, Reynolds S, Dai J: Methodological considerations in studying centenarians: lessons learned from the Georgia Centenarian Studies. Annu Rev Gerontol Geriatr 2007;27:231–264.
  14. Folstein MF, Folstein SE, McHugh PR: ‘Mini-mental state’. A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. J Psychiatr Res 1975;12:189–198.
  15. Tombaugh TN, McIntyre NJ: The Mini-Mental Status Examination: a comprehensive review. J Am Geriatr Soc 1992;40:922–935.
  16. Yesavage JA: Development and validation of a Geriatric Depression Screening Scale: a preliminary report. J Psychiatr Res 1983;17:37–49.
  17. Loewenstein DA, Amigo E, Duara R, Guterman R, Hurwitz D, Berkowitz N, et al: A new scale for the assessment of functional status in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. J Gerontol 1989;44:114–121.
  18. de Frias CM, Lövdén M, Lindenberger U, Nilsson LG: Revisiting the dedifferentiation hypothesis with longitudinal multi-cohort data. Intelligence 2007;35:381–392.

    External Resources

  19. Fuld PA: The Fuld Object Memory Test. Chicago, Stoelting Instrument Co., 1981.
  20. Loeb PA: Independent Living Scales Manual. San Antonio, Psychological Corp., 1996.
  21. Costa PT McCrae RR: NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Port Huron, Sigma Assessment Systems Inc., 1992.
  22. Sanders ML, Lyness JM, Eberly S, King DA, Caine ED. Cerebrovascular risk factors, executive dysfunction, and depression in older primary care patients. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006;14:145–152.
  23. Harralson TL, White TM, Regenberg AC, Kallan MJ, Have TT, Parmelee PA, Johnson JC: Similarities and differences in depression among black and white nursing home residents. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2002;10:175–184.
  24. Choi NG, Bohman TM: Predicting the changes in depressive symptomatology in later life: how much do changes in health status, marital and caregiving status, work and volunteering, and health-related behaviors contribute? J Aging Health 2007;19:152–177.
  25. Martin P, Martin M: Proximal and distal influences on development: the model of developmental adaptation. Dev Rev 2002;22:78–96.

    External Resources

  26. Baltes PB, Smith J: New frontiers in the future of aging: from successful aging of the young old to the dilemmas of the fourth age. Gerontology 2003;49:123–135.